News Archive

  • Friday
    very trustworthy rodent's "The Wealth of the World" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story has a richness you won't want to put down.


    The Wealth of the World
    [Dark] • 7,849 words

    In the 19th century of Princess Celestia's rule, Equestria experienced an acceleration of its progress and prosperity as the first westward expansion began. Yet there were some ponies who took this call to progress as a warrant for ever more radical reform. In 1858, 148 ponies left Equestria to realize that radical dream. This is their story.

    Read More

    2 comments · 930 views
  • 2 weeks
    The Cyan Recluse's "The Lighthouse and the Sea" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    VERY LATE NOTE: We'll be taking off the weekend of the 11th for Bronycon! We'll be back next week with more features!

    As a fairy-tale romance, today's story shines.


    The Lighthouse and the Sea
    [Romance] [Slice of Life] • 1,042 words

    A short tail of love and lighthouses, seas and sea ponies.

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    5 comments · 1,368 views
  • 4 weeks
    wille179's "Unicorns Are Magical" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story will offer you exactly what you want to read in a horror fic.


    Unicorns Are Magical
    [Dark] [Alternate Universe] [Sad] [Tragedy] • 3,899 words

    "Unicorns are wonderful!"
    "Unicorns are fantastic!"
    "Unicorns are marvelous!"
    "Unicorns are glamorous!"
    "Unicorns are enchanting!"
    "Unicorns are terrific!"

    They also like to twist words. What would happen if you asked what they really are, without the wordplay?

    Unicorns provoke wonder. They create fantasies. They cause marvels. They project glamour. They weave enchantment. But most importantly, they spawn terror.

    For you see, nopony said that unicorns were good.

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    7 comments · 3,030 views
  • 5 weeks
    OleGrayMane's "Ten Seconds" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Don't have second thoughts about reading today's story.


    Ten Seconds
    [Tragedy] • 4,033 words

    There's been an accident, in the desert...

    Based on Robert Calvert's 1972 poem Ten Seconds of Forever.

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    15 comments · 1,828 views
  • 6 weeks
    Chinchillax's "Magical Intelligence" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is a smart take on punishment and forgiveness.


    Magical Intelligence
    [Sad] [Slice of Life] • 3,010 words

    Princess Luna created me in order to make sure she never would forget the pain she caused Equestria.

    But this? This is not the way to accomplish my directive.

    If only I could let her know...

    Read More

    6 comments · 1,849 views
  • 8 weeks
    DrakeyC's "Long Live The Queen" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story explores the consequences of a royal error.


    Long Live The Queen
    [Dark] [Drama] [Sad] • 6,853 words

    During her time-twisting battle with Starlight Glimmer, Twilight finds herself in an Equestria ruled by a tyrant alicorn that calls herself the Queen of Equestria. In this world, Twilight's friends are gone and beyond her aid, and Equestria's citizens live in fear of their ruler's wrath should they anger her.

    The Queen herself suffers worst of all.

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    6 comments · 2,671 views
  • 9 weeks
    HapHazred's "Part-time Goddess (and the Church of Post)" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    We pray that you enjoy today's story as much as we did.


    Part-time Goddess (and the Church of Post)
    [Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 6,257 words

    In this day and age, who has time to be a God? Prayers come in 24/7 and fancy dress is compulsory. Rainbow Dash certainly doesn't have time. She's got bills to pay and things to do. Besides, she isn't qualified for Godhood, surely.

    The ponies who say her control of the weather is divine disagree, unfortunately. They've given her a funny spear and a robe that doesn't quite fit. They've got their own temple and they take church seriously.

    And it turns out she's not the only pony recently undergone apotheosis...

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    10 comments · 2,191 views
  • 10 weeks
    Bradel's "Three Nights" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story will bring a touch of warmth to any metaphorical winter.


    Three Nights
    [Drama] • 18,539 words

    Hearth's Warming Eve is supposed to be a happy event — Cadance knows this, but all she ever feels is lonely. Now, with Shining Armor gone and a freak snowstorm battering her kingdom, it's up to Cadance to salvage the holiday and teach her crystal ponies to care for one another.

    A story about finding your family, on the coldest night of the year.

    FROM THE CURATORS: When Chris first reviewed this story several years ago, he wrote, "I was planning to suggest to the other Royal Canterlot Library guys that we feature it ... but when I went to write up the proposal, I realized the story was written by Bradel, who's part of the RCL, and ineligible for featuring."

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    16 comments · 1,644 views
  • 11 weeks
    Trick Question's "Motherly" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    Today's story is rated PG-13 due to parental guidance.


    Motherly
    [Dark] [Drama] [Sad] • 3,617 words

    All mothers love their children, and all mothers feed their children. Princess Chrysalis and her mother are no different, except that to a changeling, "love" and "food" are the same thing.
    Well... mostly.

    Read More

    6 comments · 1,613 views
  • 12 weeks
    Correct the Record winner: bookplayer's "Lost Time" [Royal Canterlot Library]

    (Editor's note: Imploding Colon [aka previous featuree shortskirtsandexplosions] declined a refeature for Austraeoh, our top vote-getter.)

    Our recent “Correct the Record” contest asked readers to help us choose authors whose previously spotlighted stories weren’t the best showcase of their writing strengths.  Fitting, then, that today's feature is about a romance being forgotten.


    Lost Time
    [Drama] [Romance] • 59,897 words

    Read More

    6 comments · 987 views
Jul
29th
2017

Author Interview » Tumbleweed's "The Prisoner of Zebra" [Royal Canterlot Library] · 12:33pm July 29th

Today's story will exceed your expectations, whether it wants to or not.


The Prisoner of Zebra

[Adventure] [Comedy] [Romance] • 22,964 words

Flash Sentry: hero, heart breaker ... and self-admitted coward. For the first time, he details his own undeserved rise to heroism (as well as the trouble such a reputation brings him) in his own words.

FROM THE CURATORS: It's no secret where this story traces its roots to, but don't make the mistake of thinking that this is just another rip-off.  "The whole Prisoner of Zenda tribute is excellent. Tumbleweed made the right choice, taking the general idea as a start and then breathing new life into it, making it its own thing," said PresentPerfect.  And Augiedog said, "This is also the perfect crossover 'cause it doesn't assume the reader has any familiarity with George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books but still captures the essence of those books so well."  And even past its two major inspirations, the story is chock-full of clever allusions, both obvious and obscure.  Chris asked, "Wait, is that a Golden Harvest reference?" while PresentPerfect wondered, "did you catch the Icarus reference?"

There's much more here than "just" a trove of adaptational comedy, though.  Chris said, "the footnotes are full of subtle metahumor and other worthy commentary."  Soge particularly liked the take on a coward protagonist, saying, "Flash fits really well into a "good natured rogue" role, being incompetent and vain, but not really malicious."  PresentPerfect agreed, and also noted how this choice helped tie the story to Equestria: "Flash Sentry makes a perfect womanizing coward (which oddly fits the bare minima that qualify as his canon personality)."

But above all, the selling point here is the comedy mined from the "hero"s reluctance, and that was where we focused much of our appreciation.  PresentPerfect called it "hilarious at every turn."  Soge appreciated the character humor, commenting, "how he contrasts with the far more well adjusted Canterlotian society was really good, as were his thoughts about his position."  And Augie singled out the tone: "what the author does here is perfect, mixing a certain snideness with a large amount of self-awareness and no real desire to change."

Read on for our author interview, in which Tumbleweed discusses floundering woobies, uncaught thieves, and social commentary ninjas.


Give us the standard biography.

Typical midwestern nerd of many fandoms. Occasional adventurer. Fanfiction writer. Fairly boring otherwise.

Started watching the show & writing silly fanfic about it back in 2011. It’s Blueshift’s fault.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

It’s a handle I used on some long, long defunct fan-chat stuff, back when I was a kid. I wound up using it as my Fanfiction.net username … which I then went ahead and started posting Pony fanfic on after letting it lie fallow for several years.

Who's your favorite pony?

Applejack is my favorite pony, but I have to admit Rarity is best pony. Which may be why I write Rarijack.

What's your favorite episode?

Luna Eclipsed. I got into the show midway through Season 1, and then found myself floundering (along with the rest of the fandom) for a couple of months until Season 2 came out.

Back in the early days of the fandom (get off my lawn, kids!) there was a lot of ‘woobie luna’ fic/art/whatever going around, but Luna Eclipsed was the first look at ‘canon’ Luna, and it was fucking metal. I’m not saying I laughed to see so many headcanons come crashing down (hell, it kind of ruined some of my own ideas I had early on), but it was one of those cases where the folks running the show came up with something far more interesting and generally awesome than the fandom zeitgeist at the time.

Plus, who doesn’t love a Halloween special?

What do you get from the show?

Not as much as I used to.

Really, it’s just one of those things where I’ve gotten older, and busier, and so on. When I first really got into Pony (and started writing fanfic), I was teaching ESL abroad — which made English-language entertainment somewhat hard to come by. But I had a speedy internet connection, and YouTube, and there you go. Watching each new episode became something of a highlight each week. Plus, watching the nascent fandom glom onto each new little detail or character from each week’s new episode was fascinating — particularly when the fanon started to influence the canon (Derpy, Lyra/Bon Bon, etc).

I’ve been back in the US for several years now, and with the way life goes, I only really delve into pony cartoons every once in a while. Even still, I’ve always been a fan of quality animation, so I still enjoy the show when I can find time to sit down and watch.

What do you want from life?

To have stories worth telling, and an audience who’d like to hear them.

Good beers help with both of these things, so we’ll throw those in too.

Why do you write?

For fun!

Or, well, ostensibly, writing fanfic is practice for writing original fiction that I could theoretically pitch to a publisher someday — and while I have a few scraps and manuscripts I’m plugging away at, I’ve found I’ve become rather good at writing silly pony stories. Huh.

Still, I’m the first to admit stuff like The Prisoner of Zebra is just a labor of love, because the Venn diagram between “George MacDonald Fraser fans” and “Bronies” has gotta be really, really small.

What advice do you have for the authors out there?

“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.”

It’s one of those great quotes that’s been attributed to a good half-dozen people, at least. Still, it’s good advice — but one that should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m not saying you should go out and start plagiarizing (far from it, really). Rather, the real key is to put enough of a unique spin on established tropes and such to really make it your own. Be a master thief, the kind of debonair type who doesn’t get caught.

So read. Voraciously.

Humanity has thousands and thousands of years worth of stories — there’s no way any single person can read them all, but you can at least familiarize yourself with their building blocks (‘Tropes,’ as it were) and see them in action. A good writer takes in as many different experiences and as much information as possible in an effort to shake all that up and produce something new, yet familiar.

Read the classics (or at least the Cliff’s Notes). Read a bunch of non-fiction. Watch Jeopardy until you can start answering the questions with a high degree of success. Build a working knowledge of the greater cultural ‘canon’ (Warner Bros. cartoons like Looney Tunes & Animaniacs are surprisingly good for this) and then steal from that stuff as needed.

And, y’know, write a lot of stuff and eventually some of it might not be terrible.

What made you want to turn Flash Sentry into the Pony version of Harry Flashman?

It came down to the name — it was either that or a Flash Gordon riff.

Though really, Flash Sentry, particularly the pony version, is one of those wonderful background characters that has very, very little in the way of characterization, canon or fanon or otherwise. Which, incidentally, is similar to Harry Flashman’s origins — he was a minor character and antagonist of Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays, who was in turn developed into a cowardly hero by George MacDonald Fraser. So I guess there’s a similarity there.

I’d had the idea kicking around the back of my head for awhile, and when I ran into a brick wall on some other stuff I’d been working on, I figured ‘oh, what the hell,’ and gave it a go. Plus, the fact that I knew nobody had written a Pony/Flashman mashup, and likely nobody ever would, was really appealing. This was the same kind of reasoning that led me to write a MLP/Chuck Tingle crossover, though that was mostly for an April Fool’s gag.

Once I started writing, the juxtaposition of a Flashman-like cad blundering through magical ponyland was entirely too entertaining, and so there you go.

Did you find it a challenge fitting Flashman’s distinctive voice and outlook into a Pony character?

Not at all! The show is full of pony antagonists who are braggarts, scoundrels, con-men (con ponies?), and so on. It’s one of the things that makes the cartoon so fun to watch, and so ripe for fanfic.

I will admit, however, Sentry is a lot nicer than Harry Flashman — the latter being astoundingly sexist, racist, and probably a couple of other ‘ists’ I’m forgetting. Fraser is well aware of all this, given the Victorian adventure fiction he’s drawing from. So the Flashman novels can get really, really ugly in places (what with all the war and massacres and such), but it’s something Fraser uses as a way to highlight how terrible the ‘Golden Age of the British Empire’ really was.

Given the fact that I’m just writing about magical silly ponies, I steered clear of anything resembling social commentary and threw in some ninjas instead.

How did you approach writing a crossover when it’s likely your readers aren’t familiar with the source material?

To be honest, I wouldn’t use the term ‘crossover’ to describe The Prisoner of Zebra. To me, at least, crossover means the direct, well, crossing-over of characters from one canon to another. Given that two of ol’ Flashy’s most prominent talents are seduction and horsemanship, this would make sticking him into Equestria … well, potentially entertaining, but certainly bizarre. The same can be said for wedging Rainbow Dash into the Crimean War or somesuch, but I digress.

Instead, I see The Prisoner of Zebra not as a crossover, but as a pastiche. And the Flashman novels are in turn are pastiches of Victorian adventure fiction, and we’re getting all metatextual again.

The thing is, the best satires and pastiches work as examples of the very things they’re, uh, pastiche-ing. One can look at Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy,’ for example. Shawn of the Dead is a silly comedy, yes … but at the same time it touches on all the classic zombie tropes. So, when I was writing The Prisoner of Zebra, I was relying less on the readers knowing who Harry Flashman was, and more being familiar with general comedy & adventure tropes, and enjoying the story for its surface elements.

This got a little amusing when a couple of readers started comparing Sentry to Ciaphas Cain, the cowardly ‘hero’ of a series of Warhammer 40k novels (incidentally, the only 40k novels worth reading) … which are themselves inspired by Flashman. Metatextual as all get out, kids.

Still, it’s pretty heartening to see The Prisoner of Zebra getting a lot more attention than I thought it would, these couple of months later — writing a sequel for Jake The Army Guy’s ‘Obscure Shipping’ contest probably helped a lot.

The Golden Harvest gag was thrown in entirely for my own amusement, though.

Do you have any plans to delve further into Flash Sentry’s papers?

I do! In fact, this interview has inspired me to be halfway productive and get to working on a third volume of the Flash Sentry Papers: Sentry at the Charge.

This one deals with what Flashy & Carrot Top were up to during the events of Where and Back Again (i.e: the Second Changeling Invasion of Canterlot), and the inevitable trouble they get into directly afterward. I’ve got the first chapter or so posted, so go ahead and check it out! It’s gonna be a lot of fun.

And once I get around to finishing that, I have a couple of other vague ideas (read: cheap gags) for a potential fourth installment, again playing around with various background ponies. Or if I got really ambitious, I might have ol’ Flashy trying to figure out the whole ‘human dimension’ business in a potential crossover with my EQG stories. That one would be particularly tricky to get right — I’m probably getting ahead of myself here. I’d better get back to fiddling around with Sentry at the Charge instead.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for reading my stuff! Hope you all enjoyed it.

You can read The Prisoner of Zebra at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.

Comments ( 10 )
PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Apologies, again, for the lateness of this week's post.

If it helps, my computer thought it was still Friday today. :/

I admit, I'm one of the ones who drew comparisons to Commissar Cain. I hadn't been aware just how deep the Fake Ultimate Hero hole went.

Still, the Sentry Papers have quickly become one of my favorite recent series on Fimfiction, and I cannot recommend them enough. And I am definitely all for a crossover between it and Tumbleweed's EQG stories.

You had me at the title.

Luna Eclipsed was the first look at ‘canon’ Luna, and it was fucking metal

+1

Dan
Dan #5 · 3 weeks ago · · ·

How many people saw one of the many parodies/tributes of Zenda before ever seeing the real thing?

I first saw the version in The Great Race (easily one of the top 10 greatest comedies of all time). Also, the tribute in Hercules the Legendary Journeys.
i.ytimg.com/vi/TSgkoIi4IfE/maxresdefault.jpg
http://hercules-xena.wikia.com/wiki/King_For_A_Day

Can't recommend these stories enough. I didn't even know The Prisoner of Zenda existed until this post!

I really enjoyed this book too! It's always interesting to see a minor character thrust into a role as a main character.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

4616952
The Great Race does have a Zenda tribute, doesn't it? My god...

That movie's great. :D

Zenda? It's the Flashman crossover that has me giggling like a schoolgirl! This immediately got bumped up into the top five of my read-it-sooner list! :pinkiehappy:

Thanks for the rec. Have now read all three stories. Liked and favorited them all.

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